Maybe its thehurry-up offense. Maybe its new quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell. Maybe itsthe motivation of a contract year. Heck, maybe its being a new father. Whatever thereason, Ravens quarterback JoeFlacco has been in a groove this preseason, throwing balls with conviction and with confidenceand taking command of this offense as perhaps never before.You just go bywhat you see in practice every day, Harbaugh said lastweek. (Flacco) has stepped it up. He is playing better. Every day in practiceshows it. He is doing everything a little bit better than he has. Everysingle day he continues to improve, so how that shakes out this year, thatswhat well find out.
Flacco pickedapart Jacksonville in a little more than two quarters on Thursday night,completing 27 of 36 for 266 yards and two touchdowns in the Ravens 48-17 win.He threw one interception, on a Hail Mary heave on the final play of the firsthalf.He looked sharp.He did a great job, coach John Harbaugh said after the game. He was accuratewith his throws. Guys made catches for him, timing was good, realdecisive. I think even with the offense, running the offense, determiningthe run pass those kinds of things, he did a really nice job all the wayaround.Yes, its early,and the games dont count yet. And once the Ravens lose a game, talk-showswitchboards are sure to light up with criticism of the fifth-year quarterback.But for now, he looks every part of the confident field general who wants hisfingerprints all over this offense.
Much has beenmade of Ray Rice's new contract, and how much the running back means to theRavens offense. All very true. But Flacco still makes the offense go, and thispreseason, he has done it better than ever.
Everything about his play -- laser-like throws on out routes, a confident gait on the field, checks and reads at the line of scrimmage, suggests a comfort level that bodes well for this offense.
"He isplaying real confident right now," tight end Dennis Pitta said afterpractice on Saturday. "He is making all the right throws. He is being atrue leader for our offense, and were running a lot of good plays for him wherehe can get the ball out quickly and make decisive reads. He is doing a greatjob with it."